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Update to Friday's tabloid story about The Barefoot Contessa

  1. I have a very hard time believing that her "representatives" did not inform her of the Make a Wish request, not only once, but twice. It sounds more like damage control to me.

    29 Replies
    1. re: SmartCookie

      well, possibly damage control, or possibly it is their job to screen out requests she is not able to honor. 100 requests a month is a great many. I still think the mom was unrealistic ( I'm being charitable here) in expecting a celebrity to honor her request.

      1. re: karenfinan

        Most people dont' realize that a great great majority of reqeusts made by the Make a Wish Foundation to celebs are never granted, much less acknowledged, and, yet, those are not publicized like this one. Odd.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          NO request made by MAW to a fire (volunteer or carer) or police department has ever been denied. I wish I could find the article.

          1. re: Just Plain Craig

            Even if that were true, firefighters and police officers (bless their service) are not celebs, like Ina.

            Apples and oranges.

            (As an aside, what if the request was to ride-along during a takedown of the Mexican Mafia? Would that be granted? Or to tag along on a call to put out a burning inferno? Just asking ...)

            1. re: ipsedixit

              That is an excellent point. There is likely much more to the story than we will ever know.

              My dearest friend has a son who was dx'd with a horrible childhood cancer almost 4 years ago. He was contacted by MAW while at the hospital. They offer wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses, not just terminally ill.

              His wish was to go crab fishing on the Bering Sea with the crew of the Northwestern from The Deadliest Catch. That is what he wanted. That is all that he wanted.

              The MAW people let the family know that they would make the request, but that there were serious issues about safety and liability that even if the Northwestern crew were okay with, MAW wasn't.

              If you are familiar with the show, it won't surprise you to know that his request was denied. That could have been the end of the story and there could have been one very heartbroken, sick boy. If the parents were different people, there could have been a media firestorm about how cold and heartless the Northwestern crew was. Instead, the MAW people, the family, and the Northwestern crew worked together to brainstorm a compromise with the goal of giving him a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

              He ended up spending two full days with the crew while they were in Seattle and he got to go out crabbing with them in the Puget Sound. He got to be with them at the SeaFair Torchlight parade in the Grand Marshall's booth, he got to pilot the Northwestern in the Puget Sound, he got to watch the Blue Angels fly over in a VIP box with the crew, and he got to do what he really wanted--throw out crab pots and catch some crab.

              It was definitely not the same adventure as the Bering Sea, but the crew and MAW people made sure he had an incredible time. Two of the crew and their families, including one of the Hansen brothers, remain family friends to this day and go out of their way to support whatever they can to support causes that will help kids like my buddy and Enzo.

              If the family's response had been umbrage instead of understanding, if the MAW people more constrained in their thinking and less creative, and if the Northwestern crew were less flexible in schedule, the end result could have made a news story very much like the one about Ina Garten and Enzo.

              Instead, there is one very happy, cancer-free (for three years!) boy who had the experience of a lifetime with his idols, who have remained involved in his life long after the cameras stopped rolling.

              I will say for all those who posted on the other thread about "it's just a couple of hours to make a kid happy," well, you just have no idea. There is much more to it than that, even if it's in the relative safety of a studio kitchen. The PR machine from MAW and local cancer organizations alone will become a huge time impact, as will local news, etc. It is a lot more than a couple of hours.

              I truly hope Enzo gets the experience his heart desires because even if he is guaranteed a long and healthy life, he has no doubt been through the kind of hell that most adults will never know.

              1. re: jlhinwa

                awesome, just awesome - I'm smiling.

                1. re: hill food

                  It was an amazing experience. He had the best time with those guys and they treated him with such respect and consideration...made him feel like one of the crew, not a sick kid.

                  To me, the best part of the story, and the part that no news show will ever cover, is that 3+ years later, they are still friends. They check up on him, they show up to events, they genuinely care for him.

                2. re: jlhinwa

                  this. . . actually imo backs up my initial "what, really, she couldn't do *anything* for this kid?!?" reaction and would seem to point to policies in place w her support staff to do broad refusals to individuals and charities not on a pre-approved list. if the MAW foundation worked with the most dangerous catch dudes on brainstorming and executing a compromise that enhanced a child's life and led to lasting memories and friendships. . . one could assume they would also have been willing to go the extra mile with ina's "people." if garten has worked with MAW in the past, then certainly one of her pr people is the direct contact with specific folks from MAW and these communications should go smoothly without garten's involvement for the most part.

                  this is a media person with a lot of human resources at her disposal-- the child could have had a cooking experience "on set" with members of ina's staff, or with restaurant chefs/contacts/friends of ina's in the child's home area, and visited with garten for just a few minutes-- enough time to pop a cake out of the oven and snap a few photos together. garten could have asked a culinary contact to do a hands-on cooking lesson for enzo, then popped in for a video chat and sent an autographed photo. she could have sent the family to cook with one of her "very best friends" who's appeared at some point on the show, with her well-wishes, and had a real part in helping a sick kid's emotional wellness-- that had nothing to do personally with her own hands. there are ways she could have delegated this and other pr tasks to unpaid media interns, for goodness sake.

                  i am sorry to say i don't see any connection between a dangerous fishing vessel on the bering sea, and ina garten's mansion kitchen in the hamptons, besides the presence of television cameras. one of these places is appropriate for the safety and well-being of a sick child and the other is not. anyone who would fault the fishermen for saying straight up that taking a kid on a *dangerous* (word that is in the title. of. the. show.) fishing expedition is not appropriate is totally loony. ina garten does not get a pass on those grounds, unless i'm seriously missing the element of looming mortal danger on her show while she's making ice cream bombes in a home kitchen, sheesh.

                  the point of your post seems to be that the fishermen worked with MAW and made the effort to find a compromise with the result that they spent two full days with a sick kid. i don't think it's an understatement to say that it sounds like this changed the sick child's life and attitude/enthusiasm and was a very very good thing to do. however, despite having more human resources and contacts at her disposal, and presumably with a much bigger budget than that of the fishing crew, nobody from garten's media empire worked with MAW and another child's family on any compromise, no matter how small or token a gesture. by a small token gesture, i think that even a "get well" card with a signed promo photo, or a couple of studio audience tickets to a public appearance, would have made a difference to an ill child.

                  people who make tons of money are generally astoundingly busy making it, but there are ways that they can still manage to touch other people's lives, even if the main heavy lifting is all done by their pr "handlers" and personal assistant staff people. considering that other people have stepped up with a willingness to help this child, what would have been ina garten's problem with a simple referral to a "lesser" culinary personality/contact to give the kid an afternoon in the kitchen? seems like her staff could have easily outsourced some goodwill here.

                  1. re: soupkitten

                    One point of my story is that if any of the three parties (parents, MAW staff, and Northwestern crew) had handled things differently, it could have gone a completely different way. My friend could have been made that her son was told no to his original request and stomped off mad with no further effort to work things out.

                    A very relevant piece of information I forgot to mention is that one of the Northwestern crew's wife is a coworker with a friend of this family. There had been autographed photos sent through this third party before the MAW idea was even discussed. I don't know, but wouldn't be surprised to learn, that the early contact for simple fan memorabilia probably helped pave the way later. I know they all have handlers that get involved in screening requests but if the boy was already known to them, it probably helped.

                    My biggest point is that there is alway so much more to a story than what is reported, and all the "fact checks" in the world won't guarantee accuracy. Then there is the perspective of each party, and the truth is usually somewhere in between. Even when all people involved are coming from a good place.

                    1. re: jlhinwa

                      No truer words spoken and I wish the OP had been about success stories instead of gossip all along. jlhinwa, thank you for sharing this terrific account with us.

                      1. re: jlhinwa

                        I am kind of surprised that MAW doesn't operate more on process that communicates that the request could not be accommodated and not specifically that a person has denied a request. Yeah you can put two and two together, but if a child requests a couple of options, and one can be accommodated, there should be less fallout.

                        This comes across as "that mean lady doesn't like you", which unfortunately appears to be what the parents communicated to the child in a sense , based on the questions he had about why she didn't want to meet him. Which is their prerogative I guess, as they are his parents, I just don't know why anyone would tell the poor kid that someone doesn't want to meet him, as opposed to explaining it in a sense that it wasn't able to happen.

                        Surely there was a better way to pad this all around.

                        1. re: im_nomad

                          That's exactly what I was thinking. Thanks for reading my mind and wording it so nicely.

                          1. re: im_nomad


                            The MAWF presskit provides all the points any one would need to know before contacting a local chapter; including what it costs to have a wish granted. There is no reason for the public to guess how MAWF operates, as a public non profit charity the information is by law available to all of us.

                        2. re: soupkitten

                          So, is it you contention that every celebrity is bound to grant every wish that comes her way?

                          1. re: pikawicca

                            pikaw, I'm not letting this "media event" ruin my experience with MAWF at all. And, I hope if not now at some point you won't feel that way about supporting them. Chapters exist all of the country and while they follow the same credo, the individual coordinators have their own contacts, own families and own stories. If I didn't believe in MAWF, I wouldn't be a long time sponsor. My charitable dollars aren't unlimited and plenty of worthwhile orgs. exist to help but I know you realize it is the children you will be turning your back on, not the organization. If you were to lift the lid on any of the top national charities you would find similar stories and disappointing moments in their own org. history's. This one is just playing out right now.

                            On a more positive note, charitable events sponsored by food people from all walks of life happen every day, should receive more prominent press and help thousands of people each year.

                            The good far outweighs the ugly. Charity is about the good.

                            1. re: HillJ

                              My go to-site for evaluating charities is charitynavigator.org. They rate the various MAW chapters all over the map. There are other food related charities that are consistently rated higher. They will get my money.

                              1. re: pikawicca

                                Guidestar.org is a better evaluator but you do realize that it is the charities that complete and submit the information that these sites publish, right?

                                If you want solid information, visit the 990 of the food charity you wish to support. 990's are annual tax filings open to public inspection. Everything you need is right there.

                                And yes, you have the obsolute right to select whichever charity you wish to support with your hard earned money but what about MAWF and their experience with one food personality was enough to turn you off forever?

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  I don't want to get into a pissing contest with you, HILLJ, as I generally enjoy your posts. However, any charity that "outs" someone for not contributing has a serious problem, in my book.

                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                    Oh that wasn't my point at all. Outing is a funny turn of phrase given the tabloid nature of this post. If I put you on the spot, my bad. I apologize.

                                    1. re: HillJ

                                      it hasn't been shown conclusively that MAWF is the one in this equation who outed Ina. The TMZ article linked to the mom's blog.

                                      This story is long on conjecture and finger-pointing, and short on actual facts.

                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        sunshine842, no it hasn't. With our local chapter insisting that the Moms blog went viral by her readers and TMZ got hold of the story...and it ran like a kite from there. Every MAWF chapter is dealing w/the fallout.

                        3. re: jlhinwa

                          AWESOME. I love Deadliest Catch, and the Northwestern is my favorite of the lot. So glad to hear they have great hearts!

                          1. re: boogiebaby

                            Until about a year before my buddy got sick, I had no clue about the show or any of the boats and their crews. I got quite an education, let me tell you. I was a bit cynical and thought they were probably doing this for the p.r., maybe as a general sense of the importance of giving back, etc. Wow, was I wrong. I still find the whole concept of that kind of fishing quite frightening and watching the show makes me tense, but I am now a fan for life.

                          2. re: jlhinwa

                            jlhinwa, that is so encouraging and heartwarming to hear! thanks for sharing that story of compassion, generosity and healing!

                    2. re: karenfinan

                      I believe that if you were to look at the numbers, few celebrities reject Make a Wish requests. The plight of children with serious illness seems to give a sufficient tug on pretty much everyone's heart strings to honor such requests. The 100 requests would surely largely be perfunctory and not of this significance.

                      1. re: lappgirl

                        Look at what numbers? Why is MAW publishing its won-loss score of requests VS requests granted? That sounds pretty coercive, especially in this current climate where the internet is too handy a vehicle for slamming anyone who says no.

                        If you've given your quota of money or time to charities you admire, do you want the next one who asks for money/time to publicly humiliate you because you won't give? Why do you think celebrities don't deserve the same consideration?

                    3. re: SmartCookie

                      The original request was 3 years ago - how are they to remember? They probably don't have a spreadsheet detailing all of the requests to which they can refer back for all the yeas or nays.

                      But yes - damage control due to the woman blogging that she expected the MAW and Ina to grant Enzo's wish. small h put it very succinctly - Mom chose to be an emotional blackmailer with her blog.

                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        That's totally been my take on this situation. I know she's going through more than anyone should have to, but this all rings odd to me.

                      2. re: SmartCookie

                        I find it completely believable. She's a famous television chef. She obviously gets a lot of requests for everything form personal appearances to signed photos to outright financial gifts. She has a staff who handles the requests and sees what she can do given her schedule and only forwards those requests on to Garten that are possible.

                        People who think otherwise don't understand the demands put upon celebrities, especially celebrities like Ina Garten that appear on television and are obviously wealthy and seem friendly and accessible.

                      3. I wonder what happened to the thread on Chow - it looks like it got yanked.

                        1 Reply
                        1. I've been following this story, here and elsewhere, and while I'm very sympathetic to the plight of the kid, it really seems as if his mother has been quite the emotional blackmailer - and quite the PR maven! Although she's now asking everyone to "stop the madness," she also said this, earlier this month:

                          "...out of EVERY PERSON (emphasis hers) on this earth he chose Ina, and she cannot see what an honor that is. And he wanted to actually be with her for NO (emphasis hers, again) reason other then to have her company and cook with her. I actually feel badly for her because Enzo has NOTHING (that's still mama with the emphasis) but pure love and intensions (sic) and she will never get to have that experience with him and she is missing out on something so authentic and beautiful."


                          I can only imagine that when this much anticipated wish gets granted, it will be with a strong undercurrent of resentment on both sides. Fun!

                          22 Replies
                          1. re: small h

                            The real loser in all of this? The kid.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              I can't be the only one thinking "balloon boy."

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    The kid might be a loser but not because Ina Garten couldn't grant his wish. He's losing because his mom is a selfish bully who exploited her son's illness to wage an Internet smear campaign against without knowing how either the Make a Wish Foundation works or the scale and scope of demands placed upon celebrities. She seems to have never stopped to think what other requests and obligations Ina Garten has, both personally and professionally.

                                  2. re: small h

                                    Call me a cynic if you will, but I have a hard time believing that a 3 y/o would want to see Ina Garten, much less remember his MAW from 3 years ago. Nope, I think it's Mommy that wants to see Ina.

                                    And for God's sake, seriously taking this to the media because you don't get what you want? I understand the child is doing well, and good for him. But seriously, assuming he's a survivor, do you really want to be known as the kid whose mother was a jerk?

                                    1. re: marcia

                                      You are a cynic.

                                      My niece stayed with us over the summer and the only battle we had was her crazed desire to watch a cupcake making show. I had to bribe her with real cupcakes that she could decorate.

                                      I will go on record here and now - I would be a terrible mother. Bribe city baby!

                                      1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                        I think cupcakes are different from some woman cooking a dinner for her friends on Food Network. Cupcakes are much more appealing to a 3 y/o than a sit down dinner.

                                        I still don't believe that this kid wanted to meet Ina. I think his mother did, or at least convinced him that he wanted it.

                                        I think way too much has been made of this debacle, and Ina has gotten some really bad press, and I'm not even a fan. Something about her turns me off. I think it's that too mellow voice. And then we have Paula Deen, who makes me nuts. Isn't there someone in the middle?

                                        1. re: marcia

                                          Cupcakes were the main lure, but she liked some other woman whose name escapes me... Southern butter lady. Jeesh I am brain addled. Argh - it is in your post - Paula Dean. My gosh I need to go eat dinner!

                                          But sure, it could be the mother. Generally speaking mothers of sick children do not try to steal their children's wish though.

                                          She has indeed gotten bad press. Maybe she will be more hands on with the decisions about how she will spend her time.

                                          I am with you on both of their voices. I am Southern in a giant Southern family and nobody I know has that thick of an accent. I sorta like that Ina is a bit of a Cruela.

                                          1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                            I think Ina Garten is to a cooking show as Sade is to jazz music. Quite lovely, I guess, if you like that sort of thing. Personally, I find both soporific. Dull, dull, dull. I guess I could also say it's like watching golf on TV if one is not a golf fan, which I am not. Snoozefest.

                                              1. re: marcia

                                                Ina is not frantic. I love her soft voice while she demonstrates. I will be forever grateful for her pie crust recipe.

                                          2. re: Sal Vanilla

                                            Why not just let her watch the show?

                                            1. re: small h

                                              Good point. Probably healthier, too. Unless, of course, the kid wanted to do both. In that case, I would also compromise w/the child to make cupcakes rather than suffering through one of those awful cupcake shows, although the only one I've seen is "Cupcake Wars". Once. I couldn't take the judges, not to mention that Billy Bush clone pretending to be Ted Allan.

                                              1. re: small h

                                                Because it was midday and beautiful. We would be out on the water or on a hike and whining and crying would ramp up if it looked as if we would not get home in time.

                                                I come from the kids should be out playing in the yard with the animals point of view not inside watching TV.

                                                She watched it some. I am not a mean auntie.

                                                1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                  Oh, so it wasn't that you wouldn't let her watch the show. It was that you wouldn't stop what you were doing and race home to catch it. That makes sense.

                                                  1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                    I think the fact that you brought her cupcakes to decorate herself is brilliant. She'll remember the time spent decorating cupcakes with you loooong after she forgets the tv show.

                                                2. re: marcia

                                                  That's pretty harsh, don't you think?

                                                  1. re: marcia

                                                    You'd be surprised what small children find interesting. My five-year-old daughter has been a gigantic fan of David Attenborough since she was two, and recently, on two separate occasions, expressed a wish to meet him.

                                                    1. re: jlafler

                                                      well who WOULDN'T? what a cool kid, one to watch her future interests. could lead to interesting places/careers. (seriously it's so sad when kids are boring - annoy me sure, but at least be interesting)

                                                    2. re: marcia

                                                      When I was three, I could read. And I loved TV. There weren't any cooking shows then, so what I wanted to watch was As the World Turns.

                                                  2. All I can say is, after this brouhaha, everyone involved will have a really excellent time. Or not.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                      1. re: mamachef

                                                        It's all about Enzo, so I'm sure he'll have a good time.

                                                        1. re: dave_c

                                                          Not so sure. Seems more about mom, Ina and the media firestorm.

                                                          If I was 6 (or 46) I'd rather swim with the dolphins . . . And I actually enjoy the Barefoot Contessa shows, but as an adult I don't confuse the person and the persona.

                                                      2. It's definitely a move to save face for Ina...but the big unknown is how it all went down in the first place...and it will likely always be an unknown.

                                                        We don't know how the original request was laid out, and we didn't see any of the dialog between the three parties, so all any of us can do is guess.

                                                        It's unfortunate that it ends up with Ina looking like the bad guy who's making the "oh, all RIGHT" gesture...whether that's what happened, or she got blindsided with the whole thing and is trying to do the right thing.

                                                        (Disclaimer: I am no fan AT ALL of Ina.)

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                          I can't believe MAW does a sales job on a celeb for the individual case of each child. If I were a celeb, I'd say to MAW, okay, I have room for one kid per week (for example) and you guys need to prioritize which kid gets picked. My staff doesn't have time to listen to each story - you (MAW) are the ones responsible for qualifying the wish-maker.

                                                          1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                            I'm with you, and if I were ever inclined to donate to MAW, I'm certainly not now.

                                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                                              This is why I won't ever donate to them again, either. This whole thing has totally soured me, and I'm not even a fan of Ina Garten.

                                                        2. Look out Celebs! If you DARE turn down a request, Momzilla is going to take to her "Mommy Blog" and brow beat you until you submit!! And we wonder why we're raising a generation of Veruca Salts.
                                                          (I'm sure Enzo is lovely, it just sets the expectation is all I"m saying)

                                                          1. OMG...after all this, Enzo's family passed on Ina's offer.

                                                            6 Replies
                                                            1. re: monavano

                                                              I think it's for the best. I just hope that those dolphins don't piss off Enzo's mom somehow. I'd hate for dolphins to have to read awful things about themselves on the internet.

                                                              1. re: monavano

                                                                I see TMZ is still using it as a "blame Ina" situation. And the comments on the "article" are just as idiotic.

                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                  I wish I had a better source to quote....
                                                                  I hope this blows over for Ina. She was vilified unfairly.

                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                    TMZ is milking their CA$H cow for all they can... ad money, baby.

                                                                  2. re: monavano

                                                                    I don't know, it's hard enough to explain disapoinment to a six year old, let alone a sick six year old. I don't blame the parents for not wanting to do that whole situation if they've gotten him to pick something else.

                                                                    I totally get the "veruca salt" comment, and I mostly agree to some extent, but I couldn't say for sure if my sick six year old had made requests I wouldn't be a mama bear about it either.

                                                                    I'm very personally acquainted with the charity and sometimes the reps really push the kids to ask for the moon.

                                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                                      i sort of assumed they would. i can't imagine it would be too much fun for the kid after this media shitstorm, because regardless of how things REALLY went down (and obviously we'll never know), the experience would still be tainted by the *possibility* that the only reason she finally agreed to do it was to avoid any more bad press.

                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                        It's being reported that way by the media.

                                                                      2. The only reason this story is a big deal to people is because she denied a young child. If it were a nameless faceless charity no one would care. If Ina was asked to donate time/money to save the dolphins and AIDS research and she chose AIDS over dolphins no one would care.

                                                                        Ina participates in events that raise likely hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars for various charities but she can't give to all. So she opted out of Make-A-Wish. So it got picked up by TMZ. It's not the end of the world.

                                                                        Having worked for a TV personality I've seen the volume of requests that come in for a celeb's time. Sometimes when you meet with the celeb you're presenting 5, 10 + requests for their time at different charity events. They have to pick and chose to remain sane and have a life outside of their TV persona.

                                                                        Sucks that Ina got caught up in this but such is life. I can't imagine that Miley Cyrus or Madonna fulfills every Make-A-Wish request.


                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: wontonfm

                                                                          Sucks that Ina got caught up in this but such is life. I can't imagine that Miley Cyrus or Madonna fulfills every Make-A-Wish request.
                                                                          HA! Ina can go home and cry on her big bags of money!
                                                                          (I like her, btw... her cheddar corn chowder is revelatory)

                                                                        2. I was thinking just how popular is Ina Garten. Sure she's popular in the culinary world. But overall shes more of a F star (no pun intended) If I mentioned Mike France or Hal Carstens most people would WOW, But in the fire service world Chief France is pretty well known. In model trrain world Mr Carstens is well known. But ask 100 people who Ina Garten is and maybe 25 will know her.

                                                                          If the President of the USA can take time out of his schedule to do non Presidential things (they all have, not just Obama) I'm sure Mrs Garten could have. I posted some videos of what the emergency services have done for MAW and in almost everyone it took many people to put these together. It would have taken her 2 hours.

                                                                          I still feel she deserves whatever bad press she got.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: Just Plain Craig

                                                                            Have you read the LA article linked in the OP?

                                                                          2. I seriously do not understand the outrage or the responses. This story has yielded the following internet mob reactions:

                                                                            1. Nasty fat hate. What does her weight have to do with anything?

                                                                            2. Misogyny (outrage at a woman who dares to say no without giving an "adequate" excuse-- and "adequate" by whose standards?)

                                                                            3. (Not so) Curious know-it-allery: How is it that people who take a page to explain why a server cannot possibly get a salt shaker are suddenly and blithely claiming that the wish would take only a couple of hours (no accounting for travel, organisation, etc.), volunteering the time of other employees, and pretty much disregarding the serious organisational issues that go into putting together any event-- and yes, this is an event. Just because the labour is invisible to some people does not mean it does not exist.

                                                                            4. All-powerful prioritarians: There is a great deal of huffing and puffing about the lack of charity, or the fact that whatever charities and charitable work Ina Garten does do, it is somehow not as important or as deserving as a single wish from a single child. Why is it that some people presume that because there was an initial no, that somehow she refuses to give anything, or that the choices she has made regarding her charities are wrong? And for all those who sputter "It's just one..." No. No it's not. Or at least, we can fairly assume that for the one visible request (seemingly denied) there are many more made and granted.

                                                                            Frankly, I could give a toss about the Barefoot Contessa. I've never watched the programme nor tried a recipe nor visited a restaurant. What I do know, however, is how little I know about how she allots her time and about this situation. I have no investment in this particular woman, so much as I do have a response to the pitchfork wielding mobs, or rather the nature of their response.

                                                                            My hope is that the sputterati will at least take a moment to think through their commitment to their communities and perhaps give back themselves, in order to make up for the perceived lack of others.

                                                                            22 Replies
                                                                              1. re: dmjordan

                                                                                Ditto, Lizard. It's hard to understand hate over someone you don't know in the first place.

                                                                              2. re: Lizard

                                                                                If you want to be really repulsed, check out the comments on a website called cafemom.com. Some truly vile stuff from alleged moms of young children.

                                                                                +1 for sputterati!

                                                                                1. re: Bob W

                                                                                  i like that "sputterati" word, too!

                                                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                                                    yes that makes 2 words I stumbled over in the last week I need to incorporate into my vocabulary (for a month or two until they catch on and then I'm checking out) "Sputterati" and also really good "Foochebag"

                                                                                2. re: Lizard

                                                                                  I have also seen many responses that have bordered on wishing her physical harm. It gives me the icks. A lot of armchair quarterbacks out there.

                                                                                  1. re: Lizard

                                                                                    Well said! Love the "sputterati"!

                                                                                    1. re: Lizard

                                                                                      Sputterati! That's pure genius! It's clear she's been unfairly vilified. Unfortunately, this is the society we now live in. It makes me sad.

                                                                                      1. re: Lizard

                                                                                        Exactly. I'm imagining outraged Girl Scout parents every where when celebrities don't buy their 50th box of cookies from their little darlings. I can't get over the mean comments about Ina Garten and assumptions people have made about this. I know little about her but from reports, what I'm learning is that she does a lot of good non-profit work, despite the whinings of this one mom.

                                                                                        1. re: Lizard

                                                                                          so many people on the thread are saying:

                                                                                          1) that anyone who is critical of garten's pr machine in this case must hate fat people and women-- actually many people are simply looking at garten's wealth, fame, and position as a media icon. her weight and gender are irrelevant to her net worth, the position of power she holds, and the personnel/media resources at her disposal.

                                                                                          2) that people who are critical "don't get it"-- actually i believe that some of the initial criticism of garten came from food professionals (who have as a group historically been very active with charity work especially hunger relief, and are certainly familiar with time demands and orchestrating charity events on a large scale), and other t.v. "chef" personalities (who absolutely do understand balancing fame and charity commitments. beau macmillan and michael symon are not appalling misogynist fat-haters for being critical of garten nor are they monsters for offering their time and resources to cook with this little boy. attempting to paint anyone who has a different perspective on this incident as a bigoted caricature is just unproductive, and it misses the fair points that garten's peers have put forward. garten could stand to learn a lesson or two as a result of this pr debacle, unless she foolishly listens to those who would just dismiss the criticisms out of hand.

                                                                                          people also "just don't get" how anyone could not just love everything about ina garten: multimillionaire, media icon, baker of special little chocolate cookies. this is actually what really bothers me about the discussion-- that so many folks in the chowhound community have such a disconnect here. i am used to quite, uh. . . "social class oriented" discussion here on chowhound, and many people's voices are not welcomed by the community here, and i'm used to that-- but this is one of those face-palm moments when i feel like i'm living on a completely different planet than other folks here. however, i still hope we can have a civil conversation despite differing povs.

                                                                                          yes, fine-- the demographics on this site are skewed to the same economic base and age group that the "contessa" has always courted for her following/customer base. she obviously seems to be a very sympathetic figure to many chowhounds-- either as an aspirational icon or just one of the folks they already identify with. folks seem to see the "attack" on garten as a personal attack on themselves. much as the cute flip-flop that seems to be the current fad here-- kids with cancer beating up on the poor helpless lady in the mansion-- while this may appeal to some chowhounds, i think it's time for a reality check. garten will be just fine. her show and books will still sell, and she won't lose her fan base over this. i find it disturbing that everyone seems to care whether garten's career will be impacted, or her *feelings* are hurt, and there are so few who seem to care if the child literally lives or dies. it isn't really about ina, or the kid though, is it?

                                                                                          re: the aforesaid disconnect, why are people angry, why poor defenceless ina? etc. . . i dunno, i think it's kind of obvious. in short: ina garten-- by doing nothing other than continuing to do precisely what has made her very wealthy and very famous-- has crossed a line (an era, a social stratosphere) as an iconic figure, and now finds herself as a very convenient marie antoinette getting blasted by the "have nots" while she plays housemistress. the garden parties and dinner parties and the fake gentry "contessa" moniker and the rich desserts and the hamptons mansion and all the countless other lavish displays that have always been her staple goods for sale were very appealing to folks in the 1990's and so forth, to "yuppies" and those who aspired to be wealthier than them, folks with country houses in the hamptons, and so forth. garten made her fortune by astutely gauging these consumer demands and being in the right place at the right time with the right product. economic times have now changed, and the same garden party that once appealed to a broad viewer/customer base now seems like a gross and gaudy display of wealth and privilege flaunted in the faces of people who, to put it mildly, don't have a lot to celebrate, or celebrate with. "let them eat cake." -- "oh wow, people are angry, i wonder why! wow, there sure are a lot of them, i guess i had no idea, i was too busy playing in my shepherdess costume on my play farm. . ." ;-P

                                                                                          perhaps folks on this site are seriously so out of touch with the fact that-- what, 40% of people 18-35 are currently unemployed? that's a *lot* of young families. more folks, and more kids, are in need of food assistance (according to the charities i keep contact with) than ever before in the country's history. as a result of economic instability, more and more people are having to deny their kids what their parents and they themselves took for granted growing up. kids can't even see the doctor, and when they get sick, there are no resources, or inadequate ones. so. . . maybe you personally don't know any of them, but many people are very, very anxious about their kids. they would like to think that if their child was seriously ill, that people would care, and that people who have the power and wealth to help a sick kid. . . would, uh. . . help a sick kid.

                                                                                          it isn't about ina--though she is an icon of the fabulously wealthy and their privileged lifestyle. it isn't about enzo (though he represents a broad anxiety of an entire generation of young parents who can't provide what they want for their own kids). the chord that was struck was about much bigger inequalities that have been going on, and getting worse, for quite some time. the cultural phenomenon/backlash toward garten was that of the underprivileged masses lashing out at the perceived lack of caring/common decency from the extremely wealthy, in an event painted by the media as an ostentatiously rich party girl basically saying "screw you, sick kid, you don't count, and i don't care whether you live or die." so. . . that's what people have been afraid of-- the people in power don't care/won't help and they will just go on with their dinner party while oliver twist and co, who only asked for a *little* more, starve outside the bright lights of the mansion, unnoticed. seriously, this is so very incomprehensible to folks? i just find it hard to believe that, i guess. maybe i should start to get mad ;-P

                                                                                          perhaps instead of just blithely dismissing the anger and rage of masses of people who are suffering (omg, where is all this anger coming from?!?), some folks on chowhound could take a lesson from marie antoinette, and at least *act* like they care about those less fortunate, or indeed acknowledge that those less fortunate even exist in the first place. or hey, alternately, just go on with the dinner party, i'm sure nothing's wrong and the angry people with pitchforks will just quiet down and eventually leave.

                                                                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                            I thought this was about tabloid journalism gone viral, not about class warfare or
                                                                                            Liberté, égalité, fraternité. One does not have to be rich (or even gainfully employed) to think the TMZ story is one sided.

                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                              As a journalist I agree the TMZ story was one-sided and unbalanced because they didn't get Ina's side of the story.

                                                                                              However, that doesn't mean, as soupkitten pointed out, that the story didn't raise interesting social issues, because it surely did.

                                                                                              While I agree that Ina is no villain per se, there is absolutely something very sad about a sick child's request going pretty much unnoticed (based on Ina's own admission) because someone is so busy. It's a wake up call in many ways. Ina's certainly not the only person to turn down a Make A Wish request. But since it was made public, it's fair game to look at the situation and reflect on it.

                                                                                              Some responses on both sides of the issue have been heated and passionate.

                                                                                              In the end, it gives us all something to think about.

                                                                                              1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                                                Interesting points, Soupkitten. There may well be some form of class discourse embedded in the debate but bear in mind that my comments regarding the _rhetoric_ of the response have little to do with this imagined Marie Antoinette response and more to do with observations about how the debate is framed and articulated. (Although removed, it is worth keeping in mind the criticisms of Garten that referred to her as the "corpulent contessa" or that suspected that she must hate children, because she had none of her own-- a mean-spirited jab at best.)
                                                                                                As for my subject position, it was informed by my work as a teacher where multiple demands come in, not all of which can be met, and where much of my labour is invisible. And yet, everyone feels free to make comments about how I rationalise my time and cannot get past the idea that there may well be more work done outside the class room. And because I work at the University level, I also receive accusations of being out of touch with the "real world" (despite the fact that I'm pretty sure I live in said world). So in this case, the sympathy is there not because I am wealthy (far from it as you could have guessed the moment you read the word 'teacher') but because I am more than familiar with the profound entitlement and (gendered) presumptions that seem to be on display within this debate. One would presume that there would be similar responses coming from the service industry professionals, but perhaps it is there, more than anywhere else, that the resentment is playing out. (Yes, I am not entirely convinced that this is a rush of the privileged to defend their rights to ignore and dismiss the poor. It certainly isn't so in my case. But that said, there are many issues arising regarding how we understand celebrity, so this is interesting.)

                                                                                                1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                  What soupkitten says sticks with me. I find it interesting that so much of the rage is directed to the MAW issue whereas there us something far more dismaying and worthy of attention on the Enzo blog: the parents are soliciting donations because healthcare costs are so high. Is it that focus on the MAW issue allows for the US to maintain its ideology of charitable donations in the face of public healthcare? Is it an appealing distraction from the more appalling crimes of banks and money managers? Is it easier to direct vitriol in a narrative of villainous evil queens and sickly children than in a more abstract awareness of systemic economic violence?

                                                                                                  1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                    Disappointment came before this story and will come after it. Just open the Non Profit Times or Chronicles of Philanthropy. Pledges don't always turn into donations of time or money and people working in npo know all about these wonky examples. It happens often enough.

                                                                                                    While we have opinion about this latest example, we aren't directly involved. I think these discussions say as much about US as a society as they do about stories that give us a glimpse into the private lives of others. Could we stand up to the same scruntiny? Would we want to?

                                                                                                    Time for a calming breakfast with my favorite diner pals.

                                                                                                2. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                                                  I think it brought up social issues, but you also can't ignore the fact that it also brought out all the trolls as well. I really don't see this as much different than any other publicized story where people want to get the raging and hating underway before knowing the full story, albeit with a few extra emotional issues. There is sensible discussion here, but other sites, every second comment is "that fat b*tch", "I hope she gets cancer!" etc.

                                                                                                  It IS sad that a sick child's request could go unnoticed, but this also all happened very quickly (not talking about the initial request), and the child really should not have been made any the wiser while any of this was going on.

                                                                                              2. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                I really can't speak to the financial situation of the rest of the chowhounds, but I am infinitely closer to the suffering masses than I am to the fabulously wealthy. To me, this was about common decency and the media. I feel empathy and compassion for Enzo and his family and what they are going through with his illness. I wish that upon no one. But at the same time I also feel for Ina, who I still believe is being unfairly vilified here.

                                                                                                I think it's fair to say she made mistakes in how she deals with charitable requests, but I don't think she deserves the venom that has been directed at her, apparently just because she is rich. The TMZ story and the subsequent piling on makes me sad for our society, and at the same time I am capable of feeling sad for any family who has to deal with a traumatic illness in a child. They are not mutually exclusive.

                                                                                                1. re: sharonlouk

                                                                                                  Beautifully stated. I totally agree.

                                                                                                  1. re: jlhinwa

                                                                                                    I agree with all of this except that I would say that if she made mistakes in how she deals with charitable requests, it was when she tried to "undo" the damage that was done to her by TMZ. Other than that, I really don't know that she did make any mistakes.

                                                                                              3. re: Lizard

                                                                                                I can only speak for myself. I gave as a volunteer firefighter for 30 years. Firefighter of the year twice. I did free fire prevention events for children in and out of district. I had kids stop me on the streets in the city telling their mother, thats the fireman.

                                                                                                Unlike many I'm not going to put someone down if I didn't do it myself.

                                                                                              4. Ina is there to cook. That's it. MAW sounds like another one of those creepy feel-good charities.

                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: beevod

                                                                                                  No. MAW is a real charity that does great work for ailing kids.

                                                                                                  I still refuse to pass judgement because I never saw any of the conversation that took place between the MAW people and Ina's people...so I refuse to throw either of them under the bus, because tabloid journalism is so skilled at whipping up mountains of frothy hatred from the barest of ingredients.

                                                                                                  But let's not crucify anybody in this story -- there just aren't enough facts anywhere.

                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                    That is just far too reasonable...if everyone took that approach, there would be no more mean spirited, negative, histrionic cyber-entertainment ;)

                                                                                                  2. I just happened to want a chicken marinade this morning -- remembered Ina G.'s Indonesian Chicken @ Food Network site--

                                                                                                    whaddya know, someone had given a 1-star (poor) rating to 2 of her most popular recipes, along with really unreasonable criticism (this idiot should never pick up a spoon again--that kind of criticism) AND a nasty explanation about Make-A-Wish and the current story. This person chose the name "ChefsforGood". The critical posts have since disappeared.

                                                                                                    So many things about this situation make me angry -- if we knew all the facts I might only be angry at one or two things.

                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: blue room

                                                                                                      It was irresponsible for the mother to instigate a hate campaign on her blog for a simple refusal. When TMZ got a hold of it, it damaged Ina's reputation, the foundation's reputation and probably did no good for the kid.

                                                                                                      The thing is, whoever was responsible (MAW or the mother), they shouldn't have allowed the kid to hold on to his #1 request.

                                                                                                      When a charitable foundation does anything for you, one should be grateful, rather than being bitter at giving you second best.

                                                                                                      And by the way. Make a Wish is not "Make a last dying wish". It's simply to do something fun to cheer up children during hard times. It's not about doing something before you die.

                                                                                                      1. re: david t.

                                                                                                        <When a charitable foundation does anything for you, one should be grateful, rather than being bitter at giving you second best. >

                                                                                                        Agreed. And it's worth pointing out that the name of the organization is "Make A Wish," not "Make A Demand."

                                                                                                        1. re: david t.

                                                                                                          And yet countless comments on the various stories have talked about Enzo being "terminal" and how evil Ina is for turning down a little boy who's going to die. People just don't read.

                                                                                                          And small h, I like your point of "Make A Wish" doesn't mean "Make A Demand."

                                                                                                      2. Should we start looking for the "Ina Garten Good Torpedo Sandwich of Truth" tour, coming to a city near you? There's the way to rehabilitate her image :)

                                                                                                        I like the suggestion above that Ina or whatever celebrity offers one experience to MAW, and they prioritize who gets to partake. Otherwise any C list or above famous person would be spending all their time on charitable requests.

                                                                                                        If anyone caught the 60 Minutes profile on Albert Pujols yesterday, they talked about him visiting a sick child after a game, without publicity (at the time). What if Ina does her mitzvahs like that? We don't know where (or if) she performs charitable acts beyond what gets publicized. I'm pretty sure Ina's Jewish, but didn't Christ say to perform your acts of charity in secret?

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: coney with everything

                                                                                                          I did catch the Albert Pujols profile, coney, and thought of this thread as well!

                                                                                                          NO ONE but Ina Garten and her management staff know what she gives to charity - her time, money, etc. I'm rather stunned at lappgirl saying below "I doubt if Ms. Garten is so swamped with requests that she could not have done something." Again, *no one* knows how many requests she actually gets. If every single request was granted, the celebrities wouldn't have any time to do anything else. Everyone has to prioritize their own time.

                                                                                                          This mother took her complaint to a larger audience by publishing it on a blog, which then spiraled out of control due to gossip TV/Internet. Yeah, I put most of the blame on her. Whiny on her part. And her backtracking in a follow-up blog post doesn't serve her well, as I think she realized she stepped over the boundaries of *asking* for a request to be fulfilled and was *demanding* one.

                                                                                                        2. Responses to this thread have been heavily slanted in favor of Ms. Garten rather than the boy; this has surprised me greatly, as it does not seem like the charitable Chowhound profile I have come to know. Attacks have been made both on a young boy undergoing serious medical problems, as well as on his mother. Surprising, alarming, and oh, so unattractive. I doubt if Ms. Garten is so swamped with requests that she could not have done something. And this is where we who are appalled at many of the responses part way with those who have come out as pitbulls attacking anyone who feels that Ms. Garten let the boy down. I ran businesses that required me to show up for all sorts of things not directly connected with my primary responsibilities. Many of these things were charitable, others were things like funerals for people I didn't know, but where my presence would be meaningful to the family. Hell, I went to all manners of charitable things because, in my position at the time, I could influence others to also give. I made one prior comment, this is my last, I like Ms. Garten and think she has a fine tv show, but I am disappointed in her behavior and even more so in that of her followers.

                                                                                                          29 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: lappgirl

                                                                                                            You framed this as Ina Garten vs the Sick Boy.

                                                                                                            However, if it needed to be framed as a duel, my guess is that most would put it as:
                                                                                                            Ina Garten versus the Mother.

                                                                                                            Also, if you were hoping to be proper it is Mrs. Garten, no Ms. Although, you could call her Miss Jackson if you're nasty.

                                                                                                            1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                              When it should have been conducted through MAWF chapter coordinators and this family with no public involvement or need to retract anything on the part of any donor involvement.

                                                                                                              Tabloid fever nothing more.

                                                                                                              1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                Actually, I'd frame it as Ina Garten vs. the tabloid press (and the public reaction to its reporting).

                                                                                                              2. re: lappgirl

                                                                                                                lappgirl, I imagine you say "no" to some requests...does Ina not have that right as well?

                                                                                                                1. re: lappgirl

                                                                                                                  Did I somehow miss the posts that attacked a sick boy??

                                                                                                                  1. re: lappgirl

                                                                                                                    you know some people on this board are acting as if Ina Garten could have cured the boy of his illness, but chose to print money and sip champagne instead. Requests are made to celebrities all the time, and they fulfill the ones they are able to, and want to. All of us make choices about how we spend our time,and how much we devote to charity. As LindaWhit said elsewhere, none of us know what she does, or how much she gives. I have a hard time understanding the outrage for turning down a request that frankly doesn't really help the child if it is honored. It is fascinating how people view this through varying lenses- a rorschach test, if you will.

                                                                                                                    1. re: lappgirl

                                                                                                                      Speaking as someone who volunteers a lot, one of the hardest things I've had to learn is how to say "no" to worthy causes. It seems that the more one does, the more one is asked to do. No one can, or should be expected to, say "yes" to every request.

                                                                                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                        A pertinent quote hangs over my desk:

                                                                                                                        "To say YES to the right things - and not be overwhelmed, overworked and generally stressed - you have to say NO to a lot of other things"

                                                                                                                        William Ury, 2007

                                                                                                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                          Plenty of people volunteer their time and talents in groups...and often accomplish more as a team than as individuals. As some who has run a charity I can assure you we don't wish to over extend, over ask or experience volunteer failure. Charities can't say yes to all of their clients either. So, we're on the same side; the side of doing what we can, while we can.

                                                                                                                        2. re: lappgirl

                                                                                                                          You're very lucky (and nice) that you've been able to respond to every request made to you, especially as a business owner. As an individual, I turn down donation requests regularly. And, I do a lot of fund raising and have more businesses turn me down (for good causes like food pantries) than accept and I completely understand. I do it as a volunteer and I know these businesses are hit up regularly and can't contribute to everyone. They appreciate what I do; I appreciate their commitments to their causes--I wouldn't deliberately go around and black list them because they didn't support my cause and I don't think they're heartless and cruel because they don't support a community center that provides food to children who don't have enough to eat (or whatever I might be raising money for--right now it's for the tsunami victims in Japan. BTW, if you're interested in donating since you don't refuse causes, you can e-mail me :-) ). Is my cause better than the next person who walks in the door and needs a donation to breast cancer, little league or whatever other organization?

                                                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                            there have been a couple of posts that seem to imply that MAW is not a worthy cause compared to others. also implying that celebrities/folks with public lives have no more social responsibilities than regular people, despite the fact that celebrities have greater resources and visibility, not to mention the cash and the personal assistant staff to take on the real heavy lifting. i've found the opposite to be true, and that the greater the fame/visibility of a person, the greater their widespread impact can potentially be. charitable work doesn't generally hurt the celebrity btw, and more often helps their public image. presumably garten would have communicated with her assisting staff and pr folks which fans, causes, and charities to prioritize. of course she has a personal staff and a pr team that she appointed/trained/promoted. can we please stop pretending that ina garten does her own grocery shopping and cleaning?

                                                                                                                            i would think that more folks who are active in charitable work would recognize how most "regular" folks would like to do more, and the main sticking point are resources-- hence the food community's frustration with garten, and their subsequent criticism of her-- she has *so much* more resources at her disposal, yet she can't acknowledge this boy, even to send a get well card-- picked out, written and signed by a staffer or unpaid intern. . . i agree with her peers who think it makes food celebrities look very bad and very selfish, which of course will hurt public perception of the industry.

                                                                                                                            another thing that really bothers me is that i think that if garten were another kind of media icon/ceo, that there would be many folks talking about her ultimate responsibility for her pr people and the presumed policies/guidelines they follow. by another type of ceo, i mean a male. i think people have this disturbing tendency to excuse foibles in women-headed organizations because there is an unconscious assumption that a female ceo is fundamentally not competent to appoint, promote, develop and lead competent people and to put together a coherent plan/vision that's followed across the ranks. when something bad happens, there is this "poor dear, why did this happen?" response. well. . . if someone in a leadership position surrounds themselves with sycophants, climbers, and selfish douchebag-types, i would expect an outcome like this from that type of organization. if the leader chose to surround themselves with highly competent, fundamentally nice, critical-thinking types, i'd think this outcome would be highly unlikely (i.e. someone would have made at least a small gesture toward this child on garten's behalf).

                                                                                                                            garten and her fans need to knock it off with the victim act-- she needs to take personal responsibility for her own policies and people, and her fans need to start seeing her as capable/competent to do so. maybe she should start by balancing her staff better with some folks familiar with charity work/pr, and not just folks who are great at making money off the shiny page, or throwing a fabulous party. what seemed to work great for her at the start of her career can work against her as she reaches the age and status of food media grande dame-- she runs a dangerous risk of self-caricature and irrelevance unless she starts to *act* like an icon worthy of respect. right now i'd say most folks in the food industry reject the image she projects-- which could be a fine thing for garten, if she only wants to court her current devoted audience, with no thoughts of being taken seriously.

                                                                                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                              the only thing I'll say is her PR machine needs a tune-up. the mother should not have been left feeling slighted and once she was this situation should have been addressed in a swift and clear and direct manner. the whole thing is sort of sad, sad the kid didn't get the wish, sad the mother couldn't make this happen, sad Garten (and staff) didn't communicate the inability to fulfill and sad that maybe we do expect too much sometimes.

                                                                                                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                I don't know what image she projects or is trying to and really don't care. I'm pointing out that we all pick and choose what we support and it's unfair for the one that is rejected to make a big fuss over it. Since MAW has praised Ina Garten's support of them, I'll believe them. Ina's PR people now know, as does every celebrity that if they don't grant every request, they could be slammed by the person and they need to be mindful of that.

                                                                                                                                I have had several local stores turn me down for requests. I didn't take it on myself to write letters/blogs about how ungenerous they are. You've been in the restaurant business, IIRC, and have been there, I'm assuming. I know my FIL supports some sports teams but not all that approach him because of the sheer volume, Thankfully, he hasn't had to deal w/ overzealous parents who are outraged because he didn't support their particular team. At this point, people have probably learned that they can be outraged, take it to the public to get what they want from others.

                                                                                                                                The sad part of this is that MAW has ended up looking bad and I'm sure this is not their policy.

                                                                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                  "I have had several local stores turn me down for requests. I didn't take it on myself to write letters/blogs about how ungenerous they are."
                                                                                                                                  And that is ultimately the issue. This entire cause célèbre would *never* have been an issue if the mother had not chosen to make it so public by putting the whiny story up on her blog.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                    And, given that MAW has said Ina is an active supporter of their organization, I think they're probably mortified about someone smearing one of their supporters. People seem to want to overlook the statements that MAW has made about Ina and draw their own conclusions. As was posted above:


                                                                                                                                    "The Make-A-Wish Foundation has a very strong working relationship with Ina Garten, a celebrity wish granter who has generously made herself available to grant a wish in the past. Ina is a good friend of the Foundation and we are grateful to her for her support of our mission."

                                                                                                                                  2. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                    there is this lady who calls us up every year from the shrine circus-- she's got this unmistakable whiskey and cigarettes voice. maybe it's the time of day, but i always seem to pick up her call and have to turn her down, explaining that since we are small, we focus on specific local charities, mainly hunger relief and environmental causes, but youth in the arts, too. i don't tell her the bit about: we're also very concerned about the shrine circus' treatment of elephants etc. . . she is also just fundraising, as she has for goodness knows how many years, prob since i was in diapers. . . to "make a child's day" and give very sick children some joy (even though a day at the circus won't cure any child's ailment), and she always says "bless your heart" when i mention whom we do support. i have no idea if she remembers from year to year, i don't even want to think about how many people that woman calls, or how often she's turned down.

                                                                                                                                    of course everyone has to pick and choose charitable time/money spent. my beef with garten (i'm agreeing with her peer critics, not some of the hysterical people on the mommy blogs) is not that she didn't take a week out of her schedule to visit with this boy, it's that she didn't set up a mechanism in her pr machine-- person(s) to catch this query and respond to it in a humane way. again, couple of tix to a public appearance (cost defrayed by tix prices of wealthy fans), a get-well card with signed publicity photo, an effort to work with the family on some sort of compromise/personal message that would have still been meaningful to this child. this would all be on gartens' staff, not garten's personal time. i don't feel that it's helpful to continue acting like garten is just a regular person who has no personal staff, or that this staff doesn't follow parameters she sets. 100 charitable requests a month sounds like a lot, and it would be to a person who opens all their own mail, but responding to 3-4 requests a day is not too much for a professional staffer who also does planning of major charitable/pr events. i can't imagine all the stuff i could get done if i had those kinds of resources, and that's where her critics imo have a good point. bet that oprah gets a lot more than 100 charitable requests a month, but you don't really hear about her/her people dropping the ball, and there are folks not nearly as famous as garten, who probably *do* open all their own mail, who are doing better. she set up her own system to overlook this boy, and now that she's getting blowback, she's pleading ignorance/innocence. many want to absolve her from any/all blame, i guess. i'd rather see her take responsibility and step up and not make food media the easy public target it's rapidly becoming. send a goddamn card an intern signed, ina-- really, it isn't that hard.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                      Yes, I see--hopefully, this will teach her to have that all in place. OTOH, we don't know that this didn't happen. All we really know is MAW has said Ina is a good supporter, she couldn't do exactly as this boy wanted and the mom made a big deal about it. Ina, at this point, isn't going to try to make the mom look bad but the mom has no problem making Ina look bad. We don't know if Ina's staff sent regrets or not, and I don't think it's fair to condemn her without information. Do you know that Ina didn't send a card? As dropping the ball goes, all we know is that Oprah hasn't been called out for it, but Ina has. We don't know any of their systems for dealing with this and they all take criticism for that they do/don't do. This is almost like blackmail--do exactly what the moms want or they'll take it public and make you look bad. Until I have more information, I believe in innocent until proven guilty.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                        several times you have referred to people in the food industry being upset, or critical of her. Who? where did you see this? I haven't seen any other references, just TMZ and Mommy blog types. Could you share where you have seen industry folks being critical?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: karenfinan

                                                                                                                                          I was wondering that, too. I haven't seen the food industry (as if it's a monolith?) take a stand against Ina. And I find the sweeping statement that this makes them and all woman business owners look bad just So Wrong and comical, even.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                            I haven't seen anything of the kind either. Even the media merry-go-round has simmered. Frankly, CH's (myself included) have kept the buzz alive as much as any mommy blogger or TMZ. and this is already played out, old news.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                              please, i never said garten makes women business owners look bad. sweeping statement indeed. i said she buys into sexist stereotypes when she denies knowledge/responsibility of her own personnel, and folks' sexist attitudes come out when they accept these kinds of statements from her.

                                                                                                                                              if you read my post, i was responding to the folks playing the "sexist" card on the thread who said that female celebrities are seen as ogres if they turn down charitable requests, whereas male celebrities presumably would not. . . & leaving aside the visibility of hundreds of (male) celebrity pro athletes (nfl, nba) who work with MAW, kid's cancer centers, etc. . . i find it far more sexist that folks want to absolve garten from statements and actions coming from her own hand-picked, hand-promoted, hand-trained staff, or are trying to say that at this stage of her career there is no system for responding to or "weeding out" requests/communications addressed to her/her brand. the idea that no directive from garten was ever sent out, at any time wrt any charity focus is far-fetched. she is the head of the brand and is responsible for the overall philosophy that folks who work *for her* follow, after all. the idea that she bakes cookies all day but does not lead the brand or her own personnel in any way at all, as people seem to want to believe-- to me, that seems more like a "comical" idea, and i know that it is a very seriously sexist idea. unless folks are trying to say ina garten is a puppet who is controlled by other people, or extraterrestrial aliens, or whatever. . . i wouldn't even know what to do with that. i only assume people want to twist any possible argument not in favor of ina garten's lily pure innocence into "sweeping statements" that don't make any sense. it's an effective way to shut down a dialogue.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                The employer traits you describe are neither female nor male, they're just variations of human behavior and mangement styles I've observed equally in both sexes.

                                                                                                                                                You assume so much in your dissertations that are just not facts in evidence.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: karenfinan

                                                                                                                                              i was referring to beau macmillan and michael symon, her "peers" on national food network television, who definitely made the point "we're not all like that" when they offered their own time and resources to cook with the child. and they were responding to industry buzz, which afaik came before tmz. it's not like this is garten's first pr/charity fiasco, unless people aren't remembering her $100,000 hamptons charity lunch. she got backlash for being totally out of touch after that one, too-- her elitist attitude is becoming her albatross. folks in food media and restaurants are not on board with being lumped in w her or represented by her. she's had opportunities to change her mo, she's had opportunities to speak for herself, she continues to claim she was too busy making cookies and has absolutely no idea/control over what her hand-picked personal staff are doing in the meantime. . . and people continue to buy it. not a problem for lots of folks, apparently.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                " folks in food media and restaurants are not on board with being lumped in w her or represented by her."

                                                                                                                                                This may be true, but I've yet to see evidence of that. Plenty of chefs and folks in food media and restaurants appear with her on her show and elsewhere. Others not so much; same as with anyone.

                                                                                                                                                I'm guessing the food media and all of restaurant chefdom haven't endorsed you as their public face, either, or any other single individual?

                                                                                                                                                I already mentioned the charity lunch fiasco at the beginning of the initial discussion, btw.

                                                                                                                                                I must've missed the quote from her about being too busy baking cookies.

                                                                                                                                                Maybe the other two chefs were just stepping up for the kid and not making a point about Ina at all? Those of us who are not clairvoyant have no way of knowing unless and until they tell us.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                  I don't recall the "charity" lunch; but I assume that's what they do in the Hamptons, as they seem to be wealthy and can gather up $$ to help others.

                                                                                                                                                  I had watched a long time ago an episode where Ina was entertaining in another country a group of people who seemed to be elitist (monied and privileged by money?) and I wasn't interested; however, there was probably some interest. I believe she used this episode later as a take off episode of what she had learned.

                                                                                                                                                  Is not the gal who was one of the people in Mario's Spain trip one of the Hamptons/Spielberg group. Has she fallen out of favor in what she is doing food-wise because she may be considered elitist -
                                                                                                                                                  or has she brought herself down to another level by performing on a piano?

                                                                                                                                                  I don't care for any type of elitist behavior, no matter who it is; but I would think there are many that do -- consider Martha Stewart. Or is it because she makes simple things like cookies the reason she is not an elitist - or some may think that she is, I don't know.

                                                                                                                                                  Just musing...

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Rella

                                                                                                                                                    Believe me when I tell you that there was nothing elitist about the luncheon she served those charity bid winners, LOL... she kept it waaaaaay below "low key."

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                    Did anything ever come of those alternative offers? Last I read was the boy was taking swimming lessons in anticipation of a dolphin visit.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                      that's what i heard too. i think it blew up and pretty much everyone wants it to go away now. that probably would be the best outcome for the child at this point. the meta questions about who represents whom and how celebrities handle their pr/public lives seem to be areas nobody really wants to examine.

                                                                                                                                            3. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                              > celebrities have greater resources and visibility, not to mention the cash and the personal assistant staff to take on the real heavy lifting

                                                                                                                                              That's why so many celebs / athletes just start their own charities. They can use their stardom to raise money, focus on just one cause, and don't waste time vetting new proposals.

                                                                                                                                        2. I have to say that I'm glad the story is yesterday's news. Ina was viciously maligned for turning down this wish. Oh, that's right! It's called make a wish, not make a demand. The mother was a bully for taking her irked self to a blog and I can't imagine that MAW wants this kind of publicity.
                                                                                                                                          Even after MAW released a statement saying in no uncertain terms that Ina was a kind friend of the foundation, people still protested!

                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                            "It's called make a wish, not make a demand."

                                                                                                                                            Love this. I wonder if this turned people off of MAW, even though it's not their fault. People who do charitable work understand the constraints of others they request--it's those who are self centered who can't see that. I wonder how the mom would feel if people started asking her for money for non-profits and then badmouthed her when she refused.

                                                                                                                                          2. Folks, we think this conversation has run its course, and we're locking.